Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Happy Leap Post!

Rare are the New Year's resolutions that I actually stick to for more than approximately one menstrual cycle. But today marks sixty days since 2012 kicked off and I've still managed to hang on to one last shred of self-respect resolution: dress up for work every day.

I admit, I'm one of those people who really works the "casual" end of the business casual scale. No, not that end - a little further - keep going - leeeetle more - yup, right about there. My MO over the past couple of years has pretty much been to throw a scarf over whatever I'm wearing and call it a day (bonus: hides toothpaste stains!), and actually that's a few steps up from when I used to do significant amounts of field work and was known to wear pigtails and mud boots at the office on occasion. (Don't worry - strictly on casual Fridays.) 

Besides needing a way to justify a fairly serious bout of shopping, I was prompted to make this particular resolution largely because it dawned on me that not everyone realized that my wearing mascara indicated that I had dressed up for the day. I mean, if you can believe it, some people wear makeup even when they're not at work! In my mind, I had been dressing up for quite a while already when it occurred to me that eye makeup was perhaps being inappropriately utilized as my sole indicator of dressed-uppedness and that maybe, just maybe, I needed to catch the rest of my attire up to my face.

So I did. Frankly, it's created something of a feedback loop: Shiny New Me has been experiencing a lot of intangible benefits over Crappy Old Me. For instance, I can tell that people really respect the hell outta me when I'm wearing pointy, uncomfortable shoes with my slacks. Plus my appearance occasionally elicits compliments these days. From men. Be still my throbbing feet beating heart! Why, one day it's all "Hey, you don't look like total arse all the time any more" and the next I'm having to beat them off with a stick!

... with a pool noodle?

... a limp spaghetti?

Alright, seriously. Can someone please just make a pass at me? This is a LOT of work to do every day for nothing, you know.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The House of Commons

Having a large caffeine habit and a small bladder, I spend a lot of time in the washroom. (I recently attended a conference at a venue that had about a million toilet stalls in the ladies', and made it one of my conference goals to try every one.) (I succeeded, by the way. Drank some coffee to celebrate.) As a result, I have developed some very strong ideas about what makes a quality public washroom: Cleanliness. Good lighting. Purse hooks. Motivational graffiti. A favourable toilet : sink : dryer ratio. High paper towel availability. If there's pleasant-smelling hand lotion available as well, the place is automatically granted an extra star in the ratings.

Conversely, I'm also pretty firm about what makes a lousy washroom: Lineups. Puddles of any origin. Air dryers that sound like jet engines and make the flesh of your hands flow up to your elbows.

Notice that I didn't mention any automatic amenities in my list. I'm actually pretty ambivalent about auto-whatevers in washrooms. Auto dryers are preferable to drying my hands on my pants, yet inferior to a nice, generous rectangle of paper towel. Auto soap dispensers and faucets are fine if they work but stupid and useless if they don't - which is too often the case. And auto flush toilets - well, on one hand I didn't really want to touch that handle, but one poorly-timed auto flush has been known to undo years of intensive potty training. The risk assessment leans toward the negative.

Not to mention that it used to be that a gal could wrassle with her pantyhose (or weep lightly, or phone her sister, or whatever) for a couple of minutes in the stall and not waste endless quantities of potable water thanks to an overly aggressive auto flush. I always feel a little ridiculous for using four gallons of water to dispose of four ounces of urine, but I feel like a total asshole when the toilet flushes six times while I'm just trying to dig falafel crumbs out of my bra.

And if there's someone else in the bathroom while all this flushing is going on, I feel that surely they must be wondering what the hell I'm doing in there. I'd rather suffer the rest of my days with undergarments filled with falafel that have anyone think I'm struggling to flush some behemoth poo loaf, so I started to compile a list of things to yell out if the toilet flushes excessively whilst I fuss with my clothes:

'Why won't these fem hygiene products and diapers ever go down?'
'The fuzz is coming! Quick, ditch the stash!'
'Oooh, this foot spa is so invigorating!'
'Rinse and repeat...'
'Just washing my lunch dishes!'
'Go free, little crocodile!'
'How do you pee with these things on?'

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Not Entirely Untrue

Small Fry is at a very inquisitive age. Or rather, he has probably always been inquisitive, but his vocabulary has finally caught up to the point where he can really articulate all the many and various things he's been wondering about all this time. Most of the time his questions are pretty innocuous (What does 'hint' mean? Are jeans a kind of pants? What's the word for cars with no lid?) but sometimes... sometimes they're indescribably brutal. Q-bombs, if you will. And he's been dropping a lot of Q-bombs lately.

At first glance you might believe that giving Q its own bomb, à la A and F, is taking things a step too far. I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt here - maybe you don't have kids yet, or maybe your kids are too little to have really convinced you of the awesome destructive power of the Q-bomb - but believe me, the devastation Small Fry has caused to my mental landscape is immense. I may never fully recover from the assault.

It doesn't help that his offensive program strategically targets vulnerabilities in the defenses:

Wednesday, January 18, 06:00 hours: Target appears groggy and uncaffeinated. Deploy Q-bomb.
"Mommy, what do I use my scrotum for?"

Thursday, January 19, 19:15 hours: Target arrears tired, grumpy and distracted. Deploy cluster Qs.
"Mommy, what is my belly button for?"
"When we were connected did I live in your chest or your abdomen?"
"How did I get out of you?"
"Why did you pee me out!?!"
"Oh. That's good. Ladies shouldn't pee on their babies. It's not nice." 

Monday, January 23, 18:55 hours: Target appears frazzled and overworked. Deploy Q-bomb. 
"Mommy, why is Grandpa dead?" 

Tuesday, January 31, 06:30 hours: Target appears groggy and uncaffeinated. Deploy Q-bomb.
"Mommy, you're very, very old. When will you die?"

Monday, February 6, 6:15am: Target appears exceedingly groggy and uncaffeinated. Deploy Q-bomb.
"Mommy, how do babies get in?"

Now, I have suffered through a lot of Q-bomb attacks from both my kids over the years, and I'm proud to say that I have done my best to cobble together what I felt was a biologically accurate, age- and comprehension-level-appropriate response in every case. That's not to say that the policy hasn't bitten me on the ass a good many times, but I've never backed down from the challenge.

However, that last Q-bomb of Small Fry's was a big one. If you've ever met a four-year-old boy, you'll have an acute awareness of their mastery of the shock/gross-out power of words - I can't even begin to fathom the havoc he could have wrought with that particular bit of mechanical knowledge on file. Plus, it occurred to me (too late!) that back when Medium Fry was four and dropping all manner of Q-bombs along similar lines, she never asked how babies got in. So Small Fry caught me not only uncaffeinated and groggy, but also completely unprepared. If I had known, I would have studied for the test.

As it was, I couldn't tell him. For the first and only time I completely bailed on a Q-bomb.

You know, life would be so much simpler if I could just refer the kids to the goings-on around the farm in response to their inquiries ("Like that, but with less mooing."), but such is the plight of city dwellers everywhere I suppose.

So with no farm animal shenanigans as a reference point, no educational reference materials on hand, and an unwillingness to invoke the stork, what did I tell him?

I told him that how babies get in is a *special surprise* for when he grows up.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Strictly a Sleepover

Never mind that I let them go to the corner store and load up on enough junk food to choke an Apatosaurus, with nary a warning aside from 'if you eat 'til you puke, you have to clean up your own vomit'. Never mind that I let them watch a PG-rated movie with no P-G whatsoever. And never mind that I let them stay up 'til eleven o'clock, which is a full two hours past my bedtime.

But ask them to clean up their trash, popcorn and spilled drinks from the living room floor, and what do I get?

Sotto voce: "Your mom is really... strict."

Ah, strict. That six-letter, four-letter word that kids toss around like they'll one day toss out off-the-cuff judgments like "bitch" or "asshole" about anyone who knots their knickers in the slightest.

Strict. My gawd, I hear that (and trust me, do I hear it!) and it brings me *this* close to losing my mind - you ingrates! Junk food! Movies! I didn't even make you floss before bed! (Mossy little critters, blech!) Then I waffle - Strict? What if I am too strict? Children shouldn't have to be responsible for tidying up their own messes when they're having fun, should they? Saturdays only come once a year, right? Maybe I should cut them some slack on this special occasion.

But I quickly return to my senses: Hmph. Strict. Strict my ass. Why, back in my day...

Let's consider this carefully for a minute. Strict. The opposite in this case is lenient - synonyms include 'doormat', 'pushover' and 'my kids are going to get knocked up when they're fourteen' - and that's a word I never want my kids to associate with me. You ungrateful little turkeys, I give you tons of autonomy within the frame of acceptable behaviour but you can fully expect me to lay the smack down sometimes, particularly when it comes to your treading on someone else's good nature. How else do you expect to grow up into considerate human beings? Pick up your own damn garbage!

Strict. Suddenly it has a certain ring to it, doesn't it? I hear strict is hot this season - why, it's practically the new black! So all you strict parents out there, roll that delicious word around on your tongue; learn to relish the weight of it on your conscience; wear your scarlet letter S with pride. Because they're worth it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How Did THAT Get Out?

If you've spent any time here at all, you're likely already familiar with the many excellent arguments for occasionally sporting some serious shapewear.

However, I do have to admit there may be certain minor pitfalls to wearing them as well. No no no - please don't take them off on my account - I don't want to see your jiggly bits any more than you want me to see them. Let me reiterate my position: control undergarments are hands-down the awesomest inventions since the pastries and deep fried goodies that got you into them in the first place.

But sometimes, even amongst all the undisputed delights, there are rocky shores to navigate in your pursuit of an unnaturally compressed and cantilevered physique. Not least the possible liability issues associated with false advertising.

But it's not the squeezing into them like you're actively attempting to be swallowed by a boa constrictor that's three sizes too small to have any business trying to eat you that really gets to me. Nor is it the diaphoretic state you'll invariably spend the day in once you finally get them on, or the way they make your fat so firm that if someone is lured in under your false pretenses and actually makes a pass at you they're liable to ricochet right back off.

In fact, it's not even that disconcerting sensation of having a labia escape from the little crotch-flap doohickey just as you're sitting down to some sort of protracted and inextricable project meeting that bothers me the most.

Oh no.

The worst thing about wearing Spanx is perching awkwardly in a bathroom stall for seventeen straight minutes with your dress hitched up to your armpits and your head resting on the toilet paper dispenser, limbs akimbo and sweating like a motherfucker, trying desperately to convince your body it’s not actually dressed so you can go pee with them on.